Floral Bricks – a birthday patchwork quilt

I’m not naturally artistic, which is bloody frustrating when I have an idea in my head that just won’t translate on paper. I’m also very lucky that Husband IS artistic and can translate what is in my head into a design that not only looks good, but also works with all the maths. One such project came to be earlier this year in the Spring.

I was very lucky to receive a brand new sewing machine for my birthday, from Husband and my family. Before you recoil in horror, I really wanted a new sewing machine, so it was an amazing gift to receive and alongside the machine, Husband bought me some beautiful fabric as an additional gift. I chose the fabric with a specific project in mind, which is also where his design skills came into play. I’d wanted to make a big quilt for a while; one that was big enough for our spare bed for guests but also that could be used on the sofa during the cooler months. It wasn’t going to be complicated but it did need some brains to work out the size of the pieces and the seam allowances.

I tried to draw out my ideas and after several frustrating attempts had to admit that I didn’t know how to draw a pattern and needed some help. About 10 minutes later, Husband had saved the day and I had a pattern, measurements and a plan. My design was a simple “brick” wall type design, with the bricks in a darker colour and the cement in a pale contrasting print. The reverse of the quilt would be a neutral single piece of fabric, tying the whole piece together and the fabrics I chose worked perfectly. I have a favourite fabric shop in Leeds, on the outside of the Kirkgate market; there are so many gorgeous fabrics to choose from that it becomes an effort in will not to buy everything all at once. If you are ever in Leeds, head to B&M Fabrics…and bring plenty of cash (and will power)!

The quilt is effectively made up of 2 blocks, the “brick” and the “cement”, with the pattern being offset on every 2nd row, much like an actual brick wall. I don’t have a quilting ruler so each piece was traced onto the fabric and cut out, by hand, with some terrifying sharp fabric scissors from IKEA (yes really), that came as part of a set of sewing tools. The piece templates were cut from a cereal box, again, cut by hand. Now, there will be experience quilters out there who are shuddering at the thought of such inaccurate cutting, piecing and joining but I can only say this: I’m not an experienced quilter. You will get better, more accurate piecing if you use a quilting ruler and a rotary cutter and you will (of course) get better the more you quilt. This was my 3rd quilt and I’m just a hobbyist quilter…it was never going to be entered into any competitions.

Quilt 1

I started the quilt back in April but I’ve not worked on it every weekend. You could probably do the whole thing, including the binding and washing it over the course of a weekend. This is on the basis of being able to mark and cut out the pieces far quicker than I did and this is where a quilting ruler, a rotary cutter and a cutting mat would be your best friend.

I bought 2 square meters of each fabric, plus 2 square meters of fabric for the backing and then bought about 3 square meters of cotton wadding for the middle layer. I wanted the quilt to be fairly heavy for that extra drape and “snug” feeling on the sofa – heavy weight wadding is my new favourite!

The brick template is 4.5″ wide and 2.5″ tall and the cement is 5″ wide and 1.5″ tall the cement between the bricks on the brick/cement/brick strips is 1 cement piece cut in half, so 2.5″ wide. Begin by cutting out your bricks and cement strips; there is no pre-set number you need and you can make the quilt as big, or as small as you like. Mine was always going to be for a sofa blanket but would also fit on a single bed or a child’s bed – but the more bricks you add, the wider and longer your finished quilt. Build your rows, with an entire line of “cement” between each brick row.

Quilt 2

The back piece of fabric was deliberately a different, and neutral, colour so as to contrast with the main patchwork, but you do whatever you like! When it came to quilting this, I opted for the simplest method of all, straight lines right down the middle of each of the cement rows – easy and gave the quilt enough structure but not too stiff – a stiff quilt is not a snuggly one.

Binding was done in the darker colour, again as a contrast and was made using the cement template, sewn together, short edge to short edge, into one long line. I did manage to face my nemesis of mitred corners, thanks to a very good video tutorial by “Made by Marzipan”. Genuinely, I’m not sure I’d have managed to get the binding on and looking good without her help…so thank you Marzi!

So. Quilt 3 is done, in use and is lovely to snuggle under; a successful birthday quilt!



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